The Baker Orange

Clare Courtney carves a future in art

Story by Taylor Whittum

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As a child she knew she loved music. She started playing piano when she was only 5 years old and continued until she was 15. She always thought that music would be a part of her life.

Although her love for music still continues today, senior Clare Courtney soon found another passion. She loved reading and writing books.

“I had a terrible speech impediment while growing up,” Courtney said. “I couldn’t say three things: ch, th or sh.”

Even though the speech impediment was a struggle, Courtney finds it created a love for written language.

“That’s what got me into English,” Courtney said.

Courtney came to Baker her freshman year as a music education major, but after her first semester she realized it wasn’t for her. Although she stayed involved with music and band for another year at Baker, Courtney recognized that no matter what she did, she couldn’t get away from her love of literature and art.

“I came here for music education,” Courtney said. “(I) didn’t think I would do anything with art.”

Redefining the Artisan Image

The Baker University Art Club has never seemed to be the most popular organization on campus, but when Courtney joined the club and realized this, she decided there had to be a change. During her junior year, Courtney challenged the Art Club president at that time because, she found that, “Art Club wasn’t being creative enough.”

She kept thinking about how important the arts are for students to stay active on campus, but she felt like henna tattoos, cupcake decorating and friendship bracelets were not always the right ideas to help promote fine art. She thought that most activities involving arts and crafts were fun but at the same time sometimes undermined the idea of the Art Club.

Since Courtney has become president, there has been an effort to give fine art more attention. While the club scheduled hands-on events, including tie-dyeing T-shirts last year, it has also begun practicing fine art skills like sculpting and painting while doing projects that attempt to replicate certain artists’ work.

Becoming Inspired at Baker

Many Baker students do not know a lot about Baker’s art history program, and that does not seem to be changing. Associate Professor of Art History Brett Knappe, who serves as the sponsor for the Art Club, will be leaving Baker after this semester. Losing Knappe not only affects Baker but Courtney as well.

Courtney’s freshman year she met Knappe, who, she said, “convinced me to take art history class, and I turned into an art history major.” Courtney thought he was a great teacher from the first minute of her first class with him.

“I look up to Dr. Knappe,” she said.

Now Knappe is leaving Baker after the fall 2015 semester, and Courtney will graduate in the spring. She and her double majors in literature and art history may not only be a sign of the end of a period for Baker, but they may symbolize the decreasing yet proud number of arts students on college campuses across the country.

Taking on the Future

Courtney grew up in the small town of McLouth, Kansas, and attended a K-12 school. She graduated from McLouth High School in a class of 53 students. This marked the biggest graduating class for McLouth High in 10 years. So coming to Baker University’s smaller size wasn’t too much of an adjustment for her.

But now with her college career coming to a close, she says she enjoyed her time at Baker. She knows she will go places in her life, and so does Knappe.

“She has ideas in her writing that stand out that usually catch me off guard,” Knappe said.

Reflecting on her time at Baker, Courtney said, “It was really cool to have affirmation of what I was thinking all along.”

In the end, Baker University became an affirmation of her passion for literature and art.

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